Heather Winters

BA, Sarah Lawrence College. Studied at University of London, School of Visual Arts. Executive producer/producer/director/writer. Two-time Sundance-winning and Oscar-nominated executive producer. Credits include: Super Size Me;TWO: The Story of Roman & Nyro; The Rest I Make Up, Anywhere, u.s.a.; Class Act; Convention; Google Me; Thundercats; Silverhawks; The Comic Strip; MTV’s Real World, and Atom. Select project awards include: 2014 HBO Hometown Hero Award; 2014 Best Documentary, Nashville Film Festival; 2009 Sarah Lawrence College Alumnae/i Citation for Achievement; 2009 Telly® Award; 2008 Special Jury Prize, Sundance Film Festival; 2006 Best Documentary, Rhode Island International Film Festival; 2006 Best Feature, Artivist Film Festival; 2004 Best Director, Sundance Film Festival; 2004 Academy Award® Nominee, Best Documentary; 2004 Telly® Award; 2003 Platinum Best in Show, AURORA Award; 2000 First Place, Chicago International Film Festival; 2000 Creative Excellence Award, US International Film and Video Festival. Affiliations include Producers Guild of America, International Documentary Association, IFP, Women in Film. Founder, White Dock and Studio On Hudson production companies. SLC, 2011–

Undergraduate Courses 2017-2018

Filmmaking and Moving Image Arts

Producing for Filmmakers, Screenwriters, and Directors

Open , Seminar—Year

Producers are credited on every film, TV show, and media project. They are crucial—even seminal—to each and every production, no matter how big or small. Yet, even as a pivotal position in the creative and practical process of making a film, TV show, or digital project, the title “producer” is perhaps the least understood of all collaborators involved. What is a producer? This course demystifies and answers this question, examining what a producer actually does in the creation of screen-based media and the many hats one or a small army of producers may wear at any given time. Students will explore the role of the producer in the filmmaking, TV, and digital process from the moment of creative inspiration through project delivery. In the fall semester, students will gain hands-on producing experience through nuts-and-bolts production software exercises, breaking down projects into production elements, script breakdown, crafting schedules and budgets, logline, synopsis and treatment writing, script coverage, and final project presentation. In the spring semester, students delve into the “show business” side of producing and explore the 21st-century producer’s role in the real world. Applying knowledge and skills from the fall semester, students will learn the fundamentals of TV pilot season, entertainment law, optioning material, music licensing, traditional and innovative financing models, daily industry trends, pitching, film marketing and publicity, global film industry trends, the roles that lawyers/agents/managers/sales agents play, and the relationships between and among producers, directors, and writers. This course decodes the intersection of art and commerce as it relates to the business and creative elements of producing. Course work includes written and verbal assignments, in-class presentations, readings, screenings, assignments based on invited industry guests, and in-class final presentations. Conference work may include producing a film or media project by a student in another SLC filmmaking production class, research based or in-depth case studies, and other producer-related work. Designed to provide real-world producing guidance, the course offers filmmakers, screenwriters, and directors a window into the importance of, and mechanics pertaining to, the producing discipline and a practical skill set for creating and seeking work in the filmmaking, TV, and digital content world after SLC.

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The Art and Craft of Development and Pitching for Film and Television

Intermediate , Seminar—Fall and Spring

The first step to getting any project made is having the goods: a screenplay—an original TV pilot, episodes of a Web series, a short film, a documentary treatment or proposal—and then developing a rock-solid pitch. There is, indeed, a right way to pitch your ideas and projects. This course teaches students how to develop a project into a pitch package and how to pitch that project, an essential skill for all writers, filmmakers, directors, and producers. With existing scripts and projects, this class guides students in how to understand studio and network needs, how to ensure your script is ready to pitch, how to establish industry contacts, how to be a good communicator, how to understand and grapple with changing audience tastes, and, overall, how to sell your idea. Every development executive is looking for great stories and screenplays that will make successful films, TV shows, and digital content. This course coaches students to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of their scripts, treatments, and projects and explore what platform will best suit their project and why? What kind of viewer will it appeal to? Is it practical? Has it been done before? Answering some of these questions will aid students in understanding the practicalities of development. Through a workshop process of analyzing scripts, creating pitch packages, and verbal pitching, students will learn what makes their particular project marketable, how to make their stories resonate, and how to engage with and pitch to the gatekeepers of the myriad platforms where audiences seek stories on screen. Students should have a completed project for which they wish to develop a pitch.

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Previous Courses

First-Year Studies: Documentary Filmmaking: Finding and Falling in Love With True Storytelling

Open , FYS—Year

No script? No actors? No problem. Documentary storytelling is in its golden age, and the international entertainment world has become ensorcelled by documentary film. Is it because of the universal human desire to tell true stories? Is it because the truth is sometimes more compelling and stranger than fiction? Is it because documentaries embody and deliver powerful dramatic narratives rivaled by the best of scripted media? This course introduces the student to the adventurous and intriguing world of documentaries, from the earliest recorded masterpieces to today’s box office breakout hits. In addition to immersion in the passionate and rewarding dominion of documentaries—through screenings, readings, and practical filmmaking exercises—students will learn the craft of documentary filmmaking. Using hands-on exercises and workshops, students will explore camera work and shooting styles, lighting, interview techniques, and editorial and organization skills and will complete the course having conceived, directed, produced, filmed, and edited a short, three- to five-minute documentary.

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The Business of Film and Television: The Role of the 21st-Century Producer

Open , Seminar—Spring
This course delves into the “show business” side of producing and explores the producer’s role in the real world. By applying learned knowledge and skills, course work includes: entertainment law, optioning material, script coverage, music licensing, and traditional and innovative financing models; pilot season, daily industry trends, pitching, film marketing and publicity, global film industry trends, the distribution process and release strategies, and navigating the festival circuit; the roles of lawyers, agents, managers, and sales agents; the relationships of producers, directors, and writers; and deciphering the intersection of art and commerce, as it relates to both the business and artistic elements of producing. Course work includes written and oral assignments, in-class presentations, readings, screenings, assignments based on invited industry guests, and in-class final presentations. Conference work ranges from in-depth case studies to producing other students’ work. Upon completing the course, students will have an understanding of the show business of film, television, and digital content, as well as a further understanding of the producer's role from creative development to final delivery.
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The Business of Film and Television

Intermediate , Seminar—Spring

Building on Producing for Filmmakers, Screenwriters, and Directors, students expand their knowledge of the role of the producer in the realm of filmmaking, television, and digital video, especially as it relates to the ongoing creative process and the “show business” of producing. Diving deeper into the real-world application of the producer’s role and applying learned knowledge and skills, course work includes script coverage, optioning material, entertainment law, music licensing, best producing practices, traditional and innovative financing models, domestic and foreign film and television markets, daily industry trends, sizzle reel and trailer analysis, fine-tuning pitching skills, film marketing and publicity, examining the distribution process and release strategies, navigating the festival circuit, understanding the roles of lawyers, agents, managers, and sales agents, traversing relationships with directors and writers, producing dos and don’ts, and deciphering the intersection of art and commerce as it relates to both the business and the artistic elements of producing. Course work includes written and oral assignments, in-class presentations, assignments based on invited industry guests, and in-class final presentations. Conference work ranges from in-depth case studies to producing other students’ work. Upon completing the course, students will have an extensive understanding of the business of film and television, as well as a further understanding of the producer's role from creative development to final delivery.

Faculty

Producing for the Screen: A Real World Guide, Part 1

Open , Seminar—Fall

Producers are credited on every film, television, and media project made. Producers are crucial—even seminal—to each and every production, no matter how big or small. Yet, even as a pivotal position in the creative and practical process of making a film, TV show, or media project, the title “producer” is perhaps the least understood of all the collaborators involved. What is a producer? This course answers and demystifies that question, examining what a producer actually does in the creation of screen-based media and the many hats one (or a small army of producers) may wear at any given time. Students will explore the role of the producer in the filmmaking, television, and video process from the moment of creative inspiration through project development, proposal writing, financing, physical production—indeed, down to the nuts-and-bolts aspects of script breakdown, budgeting, scheduling, and delivering a film, TV, or video project. Students will gain hands-on experience in developing projects, breaking them down into production elements, and crafting schedules and budgets, as well as learning pitching skills and packaging strategies. Course work includes: logline, synopsis, and treatment writing; script breakdown, budgeting and scheduling; pitching, and final project presentation. Conference projects may include producing a film or media project by a student in another filmmaking production class at Sarah Lawrence College, a case study of several films from the producer perspective, the development and preproduction of a proposed future “virtual” film or video project, and the like. A practical course in the ways and means of producing, the class will consider the current state of producing through nuts-and-bolts production software and exercises, verbal and written assignments, and industry guests currently working in film and television. Designed to provide real-world producing guidance, the course offers filmmakers and screenwriters a window into the importance of—and mechanics pertaining to—the producing discipline, along with a practical skill set for seeking work in the filmmaking and media-making world after Sarah Lawrence College.

Faculty

Producing For The Screen: A Real World Guide, Part II

Intermediate , Seminar—Spring

Building on Producing for the Screen: A Real World Guide, Part l, students will expand their knowledge of the role of the producer in the realm of filmmaking, television, and video—especially as it relates to the ongoing creative process. Diving deeper into the real-world application of the producer’s role and applying knowledge and skills from Part l, course work includes best producing practices, script coverage, entertainment law, producing dos and don’ts, traditional and innovative financing models, domestic and foreign film and television markets, daily industry trends, sizzle reel and trailer analysis, fine-tuning pitching skills, film marketing and publicity, examining the distribution process and release strategies, navigating the festival circuit, understanding the roles of lawyers, agents, managers, and sales agents, and deciphering the intersection of art and commerce as it relates to the business and human elements of producing. Course work includes written and oral assignments, presentations, assignments based on invited industry guests, and in-class final presentations. Conference work ranges from in-depth case studies to producing other students’ projects. Upon completing the course, students will have an extensive understanding of the producer’s role from creative development to final delivery.

Faculty